SPRINGFIELD – To provide additional access to the Grant Program for Exonerated Persons, State Senator Ram Villivalam passed legislation through the Senate that would allow unused program benefits to be passed on to a child or spouse.

“Wrongful convictions impact not only the previously convicted individual, but also their families,” said Villivalam (D-Chicago). “Expanding program benefits for a child or spouse helps make up for the loss of resources that was felt due to the conviction.”

Villivalam’s measure would expand options for unused parts of grants for exonerated individuals that have been awarded – giving access to the person’s child or spouse. The grant provides funding to cover the cost of obtaining high school, undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Currently, recipients may be provided the grant for up to the equivalent of four regular school years. This measure would provide access for dependents of the exonerated to take advantage of the unused program benefits.

 “These grants support finishing and furthering education, which benefits our communities as a whole,” said Villivalam. “It is important to continue investing in education for our neighbors, and making sure that opportunities are available.”

Senate Bill 3771 passed the Senate on Tuesday and is now headed to the House for further consideration.